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November 2012

The Socialist Forum. It held her interest right up until the AWU-WRA was set up.

Just for context - here's Julia Gillard's interview with a fellow traveller.   The giggle.   The knowing eye-roll at the absurd idea that anyone could take something that Peter Costello said seriously.  You know, they're all misogynist nutjobs.

TONY JONES: Are you now or have you ever been a member of the Communist Party?

JULIA GILLARD: (Laughs) Tony, I think that question shows how silly all of this is getting, though I suspect in this interview, probably the Howard Government would think you're the dangerous radical. After all, I'm only from the Labor Party, you're from the ABC.

TONY JONES: Well look, seriously, Peter Costello has thrown this out. Let's deal with it properly. What's the Socialist Forum? Were you an organiser for it? And when did that happen, if you were?

JULIA GILLARD: Tony, it's 2007 and I'm a 46-year-old woman. What Peter Costello is referring to is more than 20 years ago when I was in my 20s. I was a full-time university student and I had a part-time job for an organisation called Socialist Forum, which was a sort of debating society. It ultimately amalgamated with the Fabian society, which of course is a long-running ideas and debating group in Australian politics and indeed in British politics before Australian politics. I've worked in the cleric and administrative work.

Here is the link to the transribed original interview on ABC Lateline.  

Now read this file I have been given on Gillard's actual role in the Socialist Forum.   You be the judge.

Download Socialist forum 


Matters to be covered to satisfy WA Incorporated Associations laws

A small point, but exceptionally important.

It goes to the nexus between legal advice on incorporation, and as a part of that process turning your mind to the setting up of bank accounts.

Justin said:                           

                                Mike, A point that has to be picked up on by the Opposition or media as of yet. Gillard claims she had no involvement in the setting up of the accounts of the association. Define "setting up"? I say this because Gillard admits to drafting the rules of the association. And Schedule 1, "Matters to be provided for in rules of an incorporated association ", Section 16, Point 9 requires rules detailing  "The manner in which the funds of the association are to be controlled." What did Gillard advise? Would seem to me advice on the control of the association funds would constitute involvement in the setting up of accounts. Chalk this up as another deliberate lie or red herring answer.

Don't moan about it, do something!!!!

I love the can-do spirit of our readers.   How good, and well researched, is this letter from one of  our readers to the Immigration Department about John McTernan, written last Friday


23 November 2012


Department of Immigration and Citizenship

Attention: 457 Centre of Excellence

GPO Box 9984

Brisbane 4001


Dear Sir / Madam,


Regarding:  Mr John McTernan, Director of Communications
for the Prime Minister of Australia


I understand that Mr John McTernan is in Australia on a 457 Visa,

  • Temporary Business (Long Stay) - Standard
    Business Sponsorship (Subclass 457), or,

  • Independent Executive Further Application
    Onshore (Subclass 457IEFAO)


I believe that Mr McTernan’s visa should be revoked for the following reasons:


  1. My understanding is that Mr McTernan was brought
    to Australia by the South Australian government as a “Thinker in
    Residence”.   In this role, Mr McTernan
    was to produce a report on ‘Public Service Efficiency’.

    To date, Mr McTernan’s report has not been released despite being due for
    release over one year ago,  in October
  2. According
    to a report in “The Australian” (30 Jul 2012), a South Australian government
    spokesman stated, “The time taken by Mr McTernan to finalise his report is
    consistent with timelines taken by other thinkers.” Accordingly, Mr McTernan’s
    position appears no more unique than other thinkers.

    Therefore, the position could be filled by an Australian citizen. The position
    does not require a 457 applicant.
  3. The
    Adelaide Thinkers in Residence, today advised me that the unreleased report is
    titled, “Are You Being Served – Toward More Responsive Public Services”.   They advise the report is still being
    edited. With the report in excess of one year overdue, and still being edited,
    my belief, therefore,  is that other
    writers are writing large sections of the report to cover for Mr McTernan’s
    lack of input.

    Once again demonstrating that an Australian citizen was suitable for Mr
    McTernan’s position.  It did not require
    a 457 applicant.
  4. The
    South Australian government is not disclosing to Australian or South Australian
    taxpayers the amount paid to Mr McTernan for a job they say cannot be filled by
    an Australian resident.  

    I believe it is in the public interest to advise taxpayers the total cost of
    importing a worker for a position that the South Australian government says
    cannot be filled by an Australian citizen.
  5. The
    South Australian government have not advised taxpayers the benefits and
    training imparted by Mr McTernan to other workers, part of the obligation of
    457 entry.
  6. The
    457 Visa scheme applies to Business, not to Government.
  7. About
    November 2011, Mr McTernan transferred employment to the Australian Federal
    Government as Director of Communications for the Prime Minister of Australia.
    He is on the public payroll funded by the Australian taxpayer. 

    However, he has publicly stated that he works for the Australian Labor Party, a
    private organisation. This is contrary to 457 rules and obligations, condition
  8. This
    position can also be filled by an Australian citizen. Indeed, similar positions
    have been filled by Australian’s during the reign of each government.   The Australian taxpayer , I believe, would
    prefer an Australian citizen to fill a senior role that influences the messages
    disseminated to the Australian population.
  9. As
    Communications Director, Mr McTernan is divisive for Australia. I believe he
    has breached point 6 of the Character Requirement (Fact Sheet 79), and is inciting
    “discord in the Australian community or in a segment of that community”.  

    This is demonstrated by Mr McTernan advising our Prime Minister to pursue a
    ‘gender war’, extremely similar to one he wrote about for “The Telegraph” (UK 7
    Oct 2011), titled “Labour’s Reshuffle Gives David Cameron Even More Of A Woman
  10. Whilst
    writing that article, Mr McTernan was not working in the occupation in which he
    was nominated, in accordance with his Visa conditions.

    Indeed, he could have been completing the overdue ‘Public Service Efficiency’
  11. During
    October 2012, Mr McTernan travelled on a publicly funded trip with the Prime
    Minister to USA. Amongst other things, he met with President Obama’s polling
    team.  I doubt the knowledge he acquired
    was of use to the Australian taxpayer, however, it may be of use to the Australian
    Labor Party’s re-election strategy.  

    Again, this calls into question the division of his paid work, ie, Australian
    taxpayer, versus his stated employer – the Australian Labor Party.

    Additionally, this opportunity could have been used to instill skills into an
    Australian citizen.

  12. Mr McTernan does not meet the requirements
    of  the Independent Executive Further
    Application Onshore (Subclass 457IEFAO) visa.


I believe, Mr
McTernan’s 457 visa should never have been granted. He is divisive in the
community, and his role could be filled by an Australian citizen. Accordingly,
I request that Mr McTernan’s visa be immediately revoked.









A bit lost in the wash this week - Bruce Wilson versus Julia Gillard - who do you believe

A lawyer mate of mine and I have put a few thoughts together on Bruce Wilson's appearance on the ABC's 7.30 program.

Bruce Wilson – Interview 
: ABC  7.30 Report                                                      27 November 2012

This is Bruce Wilson's first public interview of record since
17 August 1995, in it he answers a limited number of questions about The AWU

Mr Wilson’s account of the AWU Workplace Reform Association wholly
differs from the public accounts given by Ralph Blewitt and by Ms Gillard.

Mr Wilson states that the AWU- Workplace Reform Association
was a legitimate legal entity that intended to pursue bona fide Objects for the
benefit of AWU members.

He did not claim that it was incorporated as an
election/slush fund as stated by Ms Gillard.  
Rather Wilson said it was incorporated to raise money from employers and that to his knowledge it spent money to pursue the legitimate Objects of the Association .     Ms Gillard stated it was a vehicle to raise funds for the election of certain union officials.

Contrary to the version of events given by Ms Gillard in her
record of interview with her partners, Wilson did not come close to even
implying that the association would be funded by payroll deductions from union
officials and that the purpose of its incorporation was to avoid future
arguments about a fractured leadership team disputing ownership of the
association funds.   

Mr Blewitt has stated on the public record that the AWU-
Workplace Reform Association was a fraudulent enterprise from its inception
until it ceased operations in 1995 and that he was  an accomplice of Bruce Wilson  and  that he was the bagman for the purpose of delivering money to locatins nominatec by Wildon.

Ms Gillard states that the AWU – Workplace Reform
Association was a legitimate entity when it was incorporated and that its sole purpose
was to raise funds to finance union elections. She has stated that she knew
nothing of its operations until 1995. The purchase of a property by the
association on her account would be outside the purpose of this election fund.

Mr Wilson contends that the purchase of the property was a
legitimate use of Association funds.

 He did not contend that
the property was bought by Ralph Blewitt as a Melbourne investment property using
 Ralph Blewitt’s private savings.   Wilson states that Ralph Blewitt became the
registered owner of the property when he simply put his hand up in early 1993
only as trustee for the Association.

If this was Mr Wilson’s state of mind on the 13 February
1993 then presumably there was no need to conceal from Ms Gillard that the
Association funds were used to purchase the property .

On the public record we now have two union officials and
their legal advisor give three different versions as to the purpose of the fund
and how it operated.

Mr Blewit says that he was guilty of fraud from beginning to

Mr Wilson says that he never committed any fraud whatsoever.

Ms Gillard has repeatedly said that she has done nothing
wrong  i.e. never aided and abetted any
fraud by Mr Wilson and Mr Blewitt nor was she the beneficiary of a fraud and
only found out in 1995 that Mr Wilson was a dishonest union official

 No doubt there is
more evidence to come out.



 Mr Wilson says that
the Australian Workers Union – Workplace Reform Association was a legitimate
Association pursuing worthwhile objectives for the benefit of the members of
the AWU and the world at large.

The Association raised money legitimately and all the money
it spent was in pursuit of the objectives of the association.

The following tries to organise the interview into the
topics covered by Bruce Wilson in his interview with the ABC with paraphrasing
of Wilson’s position presented in the first person.

Origin of the Fund

I would have been the driving force behind it and Ralph
Blewitt and I discussed it.

The discussions about the intention to set up the fund were
undertaken between Ralph Blewitt and myself.

We had attempted to get it registered but because of some
legal technicalities that didn’t take place.

Workplace Reform Association
– Mark 1

The first attempt to get the association registered failed
because it did not comply with various aspects of the of the Associations
Incorporation Act 1987

 I tried to do
something to get the association established but it did not work out because of
some technicality.

It was probably a lack of experience by Ralph and myself. We
may not have put in an advertisement in the paper to advertise the fact that
there was an association.

The incorporation of this association was something that
perhaps people who are not legally qualified should not have done.


Slater & Gordon – AWU WA
Branch Lawyers

After the first attempt to incorporate the association I
spoke to Ms Gillard from Slater & Gordon and asked her advice about what I
needed to do to fix the problem.

I went to her and said look I have made a mistake can you
fix it? That is what you ask your lawyer to do.

I went to her and said can you fix it, whatever it  is that needs to be fixed.

Ms Gillard did not open a file.

This was not a significant matter.  This matter was not that  complicated – people are making it more
complicated than it needs to be .

It was not a big issue.

It was a simple matter that needed to be done - it was like a
mechanic fixing a car for five or ten minutes when the mechanic does not start
a work sheet nor record the numberplate of the car or the work they did on the


Slater & Gordon Advice

Firstly there were some forms that needed to be filled out
in a different manner

Ms Gillard made the necessary changes.

I told her that Ralph Blewitt was going to re-lodge the

She said if that is the case then I had better fill out the

Ms Gillard filled out on the front page of a Form the words
: “Australian Workers Union – Workplace Reform Association”.

I think that was the extent of any writing by her on the

Ms Gillard may very well have written a letter to the
Commissioner for Corporate Affairs – perhaps there was some correspondence but
I do not know.  

I am not aware that Ms Gillard had any concerns about why
the application to incorporate was rejected the first time around.

Objects of the Association

There were 7 or 8 points about what the association was
trying to achieve.

There were a list of objectives that went to a whole series
of things - training , developing unionism, that went to work conditions , that
went to health and safety.

Purpose of the Fund / Slush

Ms Gillard and I had a discussion about the purpose of the
fund. The association had a series of objectives and Ms Gillard and I talked
about having the right elected officials capable of pursuing the objectives of
the association.

The association raised money but only part of the money
would have been used for AWU officials or AWU members to be elected to carry
out the objectives of the association.

The association could be characterised as a slush fund
insofar as the money raised could have been partly used  to finance campaigns for AWU officials or
members so maybe it was a slush fund.

Did I use the word slush fund? Maybe, I don’t know.



Raising Money

The money raised by the Association was not union money – it
did not belong to the AWU.  Accordingly
no one can accuse me of stealing money from the AWU (implied but not stated “money
which I would not have stolen anyway because I didn’t steal money from anyone
let along the AWU and if any money was stolen, from anyone, which I’m not
saying it was, but if it was, then Ralph Blewitt stole it, not me, and Julia
Gillard knew nothing about anything”).

The objects of the association were meant to be implemented
– we were not going to sit around and talk about these things.

The association had to raise money because you could not
pursue the objects of the association without money.

The AWU has three ways of raising money – either from
membership fees, from rental for property it owns or from grants or donations

The association did not raise money from union membership
fees but from employers. Not one cent of AW members’ money went into the
association account.

I was involved in meetings with other union officials and we
attended meetings with employers and I arranged for employers to make
contributions to the fund.

The money raised by the Association was outside the
authorised accounts of the union.

The funds raised by the Association were in parallel to the
funds raised by the union.


Did the AWU Know About The
Existence of The Slush Fund

The AWU had an idea that we had accounts that were running.

It was common knowledge that I was active in raising money
from employers

They may not have known about this particular account.


Spending Money

The money I used that came out of the association account
was used strictly in accordance with the objectives of the association on each

On occasions that I used money that came out of that Association
account, that  money was used strictly in
accordance with the objects the Association for which it was incorporated.

There was absolutely no fraud on my part, absolutely not

I did not benefit financially from the fund at all.

In answer to the allegation that I financially benefitted
from the association to the tune of hundreds of thousands of dollars it is
absolutely not true.

What evidence do you have? I have not seen anyone come and
point to me and say that you have got that financial benefit. I would like to
see them try.

Where Did the AWU- Workplace
Reform Association Money Go

I think that there was some money that went back to the

On a day in August 1995 there was a meeting at the
Commonwealth bank and a series of cheques were sent back to the employers.

In the papers there is some allegation that I took some of
the money.

My signature is not on the association cheques and my guess
is that the cheques have Ralph Blewitt’s signature and my signature stamp.

I discovered that Ralph Blewitt had attempted to use my
signature stamp on a letter to the Department of Veteran affairs in support of
an application for total and permanent incapacity.

I told Ralph that he was not allowed to do that.

After I found out about his use of the stamp I checked the
association bank statements and found out about a series of transactions that I
knew nothing about.

I queried Ralph about it and he initially told me that he
put the money into a fixed term deposit.

I found out that Ralph had been accumulating money and
burying it in his backyard after he confessed.

He showed me a package of money that had been destroyed in
his backyard and I told him to put it back into the bank.

I threatened go to the police. He subsequently took the
package to the mint and he refunded the money a few months before my position
in the National Construction branch finished.

If any money from the association fund was misappropriated
then Ralph Blewitt was  the only
other  person who had access to the  association bank account .

Certainly Ralph Blewit was involved in running the fund and
involved in some of the decisions of the fund but he was certainly did not act
as a bagman delivering cash to me from the fund.



Purchase of 85 Kerr St

Finding the property

I went to Victoria on a temporary basis as acting branch

After having been there it appeared that I should take up
the position on a temporary basis as the Victorian branch was in a bit of
turmoil with factions in the branch.

My recollection of how the property was purchased was once
the decision was made to purchase a Melbourne property, Ralph  Blewitt  was in Melbourne and I got Ralph to take my
car and have a look around .

He was happy to do that and subsequently recommended 85 Kerr
st Fitzroy .

He subsequently arranged for he and I to go around and do an
inspection of the place.

I did not know much about Melbourne and really did not know
my way around.

Ralph Blewitt – Registered Owner

We discussed various options and Ralph put his hand up and said just put
it into my name if that is going to be the easiest thing to do.

I did not want it in my name.

The property was not purchased in the name of the association because it
was an easier proposition to put it into Ralph’s name.

Ralph put his hand up for a start and said just put it in my name.

He was happy to put his hand up and I was happy for him to do it.

He put his hand up, fine do it.

Power of Attorney

Ms Gillard signed a Power of Attorney and that was before the auction and
was not after the auction.

Blewitt also signed the Power of Attorney.

        ( iii)      Auction

I did not recall that Ms Gillard
attended the auction until I read about it but she did attend the auction with

We went
together to the auction as people in a relationship do things together.

At the auction
I had some forms to sign and I signed them.


The association funds paid approximately $ 100,000 for the purchase of
the property.

I believe that this was the money of the association and not AWU money.
Accordingly I believe that it was not an illegal purchase using union money.



As I understand it Nick Styant- Browne was the person who was ultimately
responsible for the conveyancing.

He delegated his authority to Ollie and I had some dealings with her.

Ms Gillard attended the auction with me and arranged the power of
attorney and then I have no recollection of her being involved with anything to
do with the property.

believe that Ralph Blewit and Ollie arranged the insurance for the mortgage.

        ( vii)     Kerr St Fitzroy 1993 – 1995

                     I lived in the property when I was in
Melbourne although I spent a fair bit of time in WA.

                     Ms Gillard stayed in the property from
time to time but only rarely.

The property
had a lot of union related activity going on – pretty much every day there
would be something happening:

  • Shop stewards were in and out of the place

  • Members were in and out of the place

  • We had trade union officials staying at the

  • It was used to run meetings

  • It was used to run training seminars

  • It was used to have meetings with other unions

  • It was used to have meetings with employers

of Kerr St Fitzroy

I moved out in about September
1995.That was it, I walked and that was the last I had to do with the place.

I did not know that the place had
been sold. I heard subsequently that it had been sold. I do not know the
details and I do not know the details of the sale.

I saw Ralph blewit in Perth and
he said that the property had been sold and that he took the money.

Harry Nowicki told me that Ralph
Blewitt received the money from the sale of the property and his actual words
were that we know that Ralph got the money. He told me that on a couple
occasions in Nelson Bay

With Julia Gillard

In 1992 I was in a relationship
with Ms Gillard.

I do not believe it is an ethical
problem for a lawyer to sleep with a client. I do not think it is an issue.

If you go to any office or work
establishment then I am sure that you would find people involved in a personal

With regard to the partners at
Slater & Gordon, I do not think many people knew about our relationship.

I now feel sorry for Ms Gillard
and all she has to go through because it is just not warranted. There is no reason
why she should be hassled by a group of people.

Our relationship then became the
worst kept secret in Melbourne so that a fair number of people knew about it
and then there was no point of hiding it or keeping it secret.

Gillard   - Benefits

No funds from the association
paid for the renovations of Ms Gillards property .

I did not give Ms Gillard any
money to pay for her renovations.

I did not deposit any money into
Ms Gillard’s bank account - but if Wayne Hem says that I deposited $ 5000 into
Ms Gillard’s bank account the then perhaps I did.

Blewitt : Character 

Ralph Blewitt is not someone who
should be trusted.

I do not believe that he is of
good character.

At some point in relation to
sexual matters I arranged for some counselling on at least three occasions but
I do not know whether he went.

I underestimated Ralph Blewitt’s cunning
and although he is not the sharpest tool in the shed he does not lack cunning
and at the time I underestimated his level of cunning.


I spoke to a reporter last Sunday
and he quoted me as saying that Ms Gillard had done nothing wrong. If I had not
been quoted I would not be here today.


Jamie Briggs, the member for Mayo, tells it like it is about McTernan

Mr BRIGGS (Mayo) (11:32):  Today I rise to speak in relation to my role as a scrutiny of government spokesperson for the coalition and a flagrant abuse of taxpayers' money. Earlier this year, the new SA Premier did a rare good thing and cut a program called Thinkers in Residence, a program that was simply a way for former Premier Mike Rann to abuse SA taxpayers' money by offering patronage to left-wing mates.

The worst example of this was the failed British political operative, Mr John McTernan, who was supposedly thinking during 2011. According to reports, Mr McTernan was paid some $200,000 for his time thinking. The topic of Mr McTernan's thinking was, ironically, delivering a more effective public service. Some 12 months after the completion of this thinking, no report has been prepared and there is no sign either of the two toolkits he was supposed to produce.

This disgraceful fact is that the SA taxpayer has footed the bill to bring a Labor mate to Australia. But what makes it worse is that the Prime Minister decided to employ this failed British headkicker, again, using large amounts of Australian taxpayers' money. This FIFO political adviser is employed in the Prime Minister's office on a taxpayer funded salary, somewhere in the vicinity of $200,000.

Mr McTernan is a self-confessed political fighter, a class warrior. He describes his approach to politics in the following way:

If you get to senior positions, you have to be able to kill your opponents. It is not pretty, it's not pleasant, but if those at the top can't kill, then those at the bottom certainly cannot. High politics demands very low political skills, too.

He affirmed this approach to Labor staff earlier this week, and Ben Packham at the Australian reported:

Julia Gillard's media director John McTernan has reminded ministerial staff that politics is a contact sport, urging them to hit back hard whenever the opposition attacks. Illustrating his point yesterday, McTernan borrowed countryman Sean Connery's classic line from The Untouchables: 'If they pull a knife, you pull a gun. If they put one of your men in the hospital, put one of theirs in the morgue.'

He certainly is obsessed by killing this character. That is what happened earlier this year. Mr McTernan started this year with a New Years' Eve tweet:

Happy New Year to friends, colleagues, commentators and combatants in Australia. 2012 is going to be fun.

He has not let us down. It all started on Australia Day and the infamous Australia Day riot when a member of the PM's staff on our most sacred day told a group of protesters that the Leader of the Opposition had said something he had never said. A young Labor staffer named Tony Hodges, a good young Labor man, took the rap for this; however, we know from the former Attorney-General, the member for Barton, that this decision was made much further up the line. That young Labor staffer was in effect collateral damage. Maybe this just confirms Mr McTernan's words from 2011:

Full disclosure is important, but-speaking cynically-only of what will eventually come out.

We see that in operation every day. More recently, we have seen the so-called misogyny speech and campaign that the Leader of the Opposition has been sexist and antiwomen. What is really interesting is that Mr McTernan wrote in the British Telegraph in 2011that the UK Prime Minister, David Cameron, has a problem with women. It is not just Liberals who have felt the full force of the attacks: look at what happened to the member for Griffith in February this year when he had his character systematically assassinated. This vicious brand of low-rent political muckraking should never be welcomed in Australia. The type of campaigns Mr McTernan brags about when he wrote:

Around the world, campaign after campaign shows that fear beats hope.

The 457 visa program—and well may you laugh—is designed to bring in skilled workers where there is no-one available in Australia. Surely, even this Labor government can find someone in Australia to be employed in the highest office in the land. As a seasoned political observer put it to me yesterday: 'Mr McTernan is an international political jihadist who is interested in raising his profile with no regard for the future of Australia.' I call on Mr McTernan to pay back the $200,000 he has fleeced from the South Australian taxpayer, and I say to the Labor caucus: roll this Prime Minister again, as you did earlier this week, and send this self-promoting British Labour reject and his putrid politics back to where they came from.

Grace Collier - great column in the Australian Financial Review - AFR.COM

Grace Collier

Big companies cosy up to unions


Grace Collier

In the AWU scandal, much of the attention has focused on where the missing “union money” went. It’s more important to ask how one union official raised the money in the first place. Union officials must be prevented from stealing union money. More significantly, officials must be prevented from accepting money from employers.

In the 1990s, Australian Workers’ Union official Bruce Wilson was able to raise about $1 million from employers within the space of a few years. He did this by using his privileged position as a legally unfettered workers representative.

According to an Age report, in January 1994, Thiess Contractors used 115,000 cubic metres of contaminated soil on Melbourne’s Western Ring Road project by permission of Wilson, who lifted a union “ban” on the soil.

Leighton Contractors and Thiess Contractors paid $25,000 each to Wilson to complete a “site study” on contaminated soil. The study never took place. The soil was eventually laid under Environmental Protection Authority guidelines. Leighton Contractors in March 1995 also received permission from Wilson to use the contaminated soil under the same terms. As a result, workers laid soil containing asbestos.

In my first year in the union movement, an older official told me in hushed tones in a Brisbane pub about a union called the AWU, led by “The Godfather” Bill Ludwig, who purportedly had so much money and power that he “ran Queensland”. Segregated from all other unions because of its employer-friendly business model, the AWU was despised because it was by far the most financially powerful union in the ALP.

Employees are vulnerable to misconduct of union officials. The difference between an effective or compliant official can mean thousands of dollars in pay. Safety at work can depend on an official taking swift action when required. Workers rely on the official telling them if the boss is dudding them and what to do about it, when to take or cease industrial action, how to vote in an agreement ballot and where to put their superannuation.

Officials of other unions say the AWU has been “selling workers out” for 100 years. Employers make it plain they prefer to deal with the AWU over any other union. The national secretary of the union, Paul Howes, says he would sack any corrupt official.

Right now, Chevron Australia has begun one of Australia’s largest resource projects, worth $29 billion. Before commencement, John Holland and Thiess negotiated a greenfield agreement for its future employees who would work on that project.

A greenfield agreement is a legally binding contract made between a company and a union that sets out wages and conditions of workers who are yet to be employed on a start-up project.

The contract dictates which union the workers, once employed, can join and prevents them from taking industrial action. So a company and union officials have the legal privilege of signing a contract on behalf of people who haven’t been consulted and are unaware of the contract.

Four unions, including the AWU, entered contract negotiations with the employers this year, prior to construction beginning. In a surprise move, the AWU undercut the other three unions and was awarded the contracts exclusively. The contracts contain terms below what the other unions say were their collectively agreed minimum.

Can you see the huge incentive to the parties to make these contracts? The companies get a cheaper deal with guaranteed industrial peace on a $29 billion project. What is that worth? The union gets exclusive coverage of and access to the workforce on a $29 billion job. What is that worth?

When hired, much of the workforce will refuse to join the AWU, despite the fact that it is their only legal option of union representation. As this happens, the union may look to the company to pay the workers’ union fees directly to them. This is not illegal yet it is the start of the slippery slope of corruption.

The AWU faction is the most powerful in the Labor Party, due to its financial clout. The faction placed Julia Gillard in the leadership and it is her Fair Work legislation that employer associations say they hate. The AWU has brought the party, the movement and the country a political scandal that at its core is about selling workers’ rights for cash. Business is aghast at the ALP, yet trace the money supplied to the ALP from the AWU back to its original source and you will find some of the biggest names on the ASX.

Grace Collier is managing director of Australian Dismissal Services.

The Australian Financial Review